Ottawa hospital procures Able Innovation’s patient transfer solution

Velocity company reduces risk to clinical staff injury and increases patient dignity

By Naomi Grosman Velocity

Able Innovation ’s robotic patient transfer platform has found a home in Ottawa.

The company’s ALTA platform, which enables hands-free patient transfer, will be used at Saint-Vincent Hospital, a complex care unit of the Elisabeth Bruyère health network.

Jayiesh Singh, Able Innovations CEO, says that since joining Velocity and the University of Waterloo innovation ecosystem , the company has forged meaningful connections to advance the platform from concept to small scale product, around three feet in size, to a large-scale, operational prototype that transfers patients without putting clinical staff or patients at risk.

Able Innovation developed the prototype in collaboration with the hospital’s researchers with funding from Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO) and AGE-WELL, an aging related health technology network.

Singh says current patient transfer methods pose a high risk of injury to staff, decreasing staff productivity. Patients also bemoan this manual transfer process, often calling it undignified.

"(Saint-Vincent) caters to a high rate of geriatric patients who need to be moved in a supine manner, which requires two to eight staff, using our platform it takes only one staff to do it independently," Singh says. "This allows staff to focus on the patient, leaving patients feeling more cared for."

The hospital procured four ALTA platforms - one per ward across two floors. But Singh says the company’s goal is for the platform, which has received regulatory clearance in the U.S. and Canada, to become the standard of care in clinical settings and beyond.

Singh, whose background is in robotics, witnessed the burden of patient transfers firsthand when he volunteered at a long-term care facility where his mother worked.

"I was seeing her get injured over and over again and thought ’somebody should try something with technology,’" Singh says.

That thought spurred his foray into medical device development and has since opened his eyes to the platform’s potential impact. The vision beyond having it in hospitals is to allow for transfers in and out of bed in home settings, allowing seniors to stay at home instead of being at care facilities.

"That is the grand vision, but the product has to mature," Singh says. "The platform has to be refined in a hospital setting where the use is more controlled."

For now, Able Innovations is focusing on an early adopter launch, giving white glove service to Saint-Vincent and the other hospitals with which they are negotiating procurements.

He added that Able Innovations still faces headwinds.

"Investors haven’t fully wrapped their head around the importance of health tech like this - but they are starting to," Singh says. "When the company started out, I was looking for resources to just help me understand the lay of the land when it comes to health tech startups and joining Velocity was a very practical choice for us."

He said in the three years since joining the University’s innovation ecosystem, which includes a collaboration with Professor Amir Khajepour, who leads the autonomous vehicle project WATonobus, the company has celebrated major milestones, including a $7.5 million seed round less than a year ago.

"In quick succession we’ve (also) seen a big growth in our intellectual property portfolio and received regulatory clearances," Singh says. "Seeing more of a pull from the market, we are looking to raise another funding round and hire more staff to allow us to realize our potential."

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